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Rivers can't wait to start working

Coach will play hand he is given

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / December 1, 2011
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Perhaps the person most pleased that Doc Rivers is returning to his regular job is his son Austin, the Duke freshman who tweeted recently that his father was eating all the food in his dorm room.

The Celtics coach spent the past couple of weeks watching his son’s indoctrination to college basketball, including a stop in Columbus, Ohio, where second-ranked Ohio State dismantled the third-ranked Blue Devils, 85-63, in the Big Ten-ACC challenge Tuesday.

Rivers returned to Boston yesterday and will address the media this morning in Waltham for the first time since the NBA players and owners reached agreement on a labor deal to end the lockout.

While he still can’t make contact with players, he can discuss his roster for the first time in five months.

“I’m thrilled to death to work,’’ said Rivers. “If I have learned anything from the lockout, No. 1, I needed to work because I missed it.

“I missed the league. I missed the players. So it’s just real nice to be getting back. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We have so many guys to sign and all that stuff. But it’s fun. It’s good to be back.’’

The Celtics have nine players who can participate in workouts, eight without restricted free agent Jeff Green. They are looking to sign at least five players.

With time short, they will not trek to Rhode Island for a team-bonding training camp, instead choosing to remain in Waltham. Rivers said practice will begin Dec. 9 and he will hold two-a-days during the preparation period.

Yesterday was the first time teams could reach out to representatives for free agents, and the Celtics are intrigued by players such as Carl Landry, Shane Battier, Josh Howard, ex-Celtic Marquis Daniels, and Anthony Parker. Players cannot be signed until Dec. 9, making the next eight days difficult for Rivers because of the uncertain roster.

Rivers and team president Danny Ainge have yet to see the schedule, and they are unsure whether the Celtics will open the season Dec. 25 against the Knicks as believed.

The league will squeeze eight more games into the schedule following Dec. 26 for a 66-game slate, and Rivers is uncertain about the impact on his aging roster.

“We just don’t know what it is,’’ he said. “I’m excited about it today, but by tomorrow or the next day when we finally see it, I might not be as excited.’’

Players are not obligated to come to Waltham until Dec. 9, so the team is uncertain how many will show up today to the practice facility. Strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo is the only team official allowed to watch those workouts, but he cannot give instruction.

“We’re going to practice the first day they say we can practice,’’ Rivers said. “With six, seven, 10 [players], whatever we’re going to have. We’re going to practice.

“As a staff, we’re just going to be patient and do what [the league] tells us. We just don’t know anything else. We’re preparing like the 25th is opening night, but we don’t know that, either.’’

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashburn14

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